A coldish afternoon. Evening’s drawing in at Fountains Abbey, and our little choir is due to sing there. Not in the roofless ruined abbey, but in their former storage area, their cellarium, as vaulted as any church, and as atmospheric, with its wide colonnaded chamber and its vibrant acoustics. Local choirs vie for the privilege of a singing spot there around Christmas, knowing that audiences will be generously appreciative, and that the cellarium will give the very best account of the choir’s music making. Generally performers choose favourite Christmas carols that the audiences know and love.
Not us. Our director, Nicky, makes interesting choices. We sing early carols that the monks themselves might have known, such as the Coventry Carol and Ave Maris Stella. We sing music known to a secular mediaeval audience – the rousing songs of taverns, feasting and wassailing, such as Gaudete, The Boar’s Head Carol and the Gloucestershire Wassail.
We sing winter songs from Lapland – a yoik to call the reindeer in, and a seal woman’s lament. A spiritual, a modern Hungarian take on Alleluia – the variety continues….. but we finish off with a traditional favourite – Ding dong merrily on high.
We’re delighted. We get through with no disasters, and we’re exhilarated at the way the acoustics of the cellarium enhance our music-making. The audience pays us pretty compliments. We want to come back again next year.
Happy New Year to you all. Let’s hope for a better 2017.